Northern Exposure Wiki
Northern Exposure Wiki
"Dreams, Schemes and Putting Greens"
Season 1, Episode 4 (4)
Airdate August 2, 1990
Writer(s) Sean Clark
Director Dan Lerner
Guest star(s)

←   Episode sequence   →
"Soapy Sanderson" "Russian Flu"


Joel is to be the best man at Holling and Shelly's wedding, but his mind is on helping Maurice sell the Alaskan Riviera to two Japanese businessmen in hopes of becoming the attending physician and playing golf at their proposed resort.


In an effort to expand the tourist trade of Cicely, Maurice drives in two Japanese investors in his convertible Cadillac. On the trip in, he is espousing the virtues of Alaska, and Cicely in general, to Masuto, who speaks no English, and Chiba, who acts as a translator. However, the ride causes Masuto to get sick, and Maurice takes him in to see Dr. Fleischman.

In Joel's office, Shelly is being examined for sickness. Since she missed her last two periods, she took a home pregnancy test, and discovered that she is pregnant. However, the examination is cut short as Maurice rushes Masuto in. Maurice tells Joel of their plan to build hotels and golf courses in Cicely, and Joel offers his services as an on-call physician, in exchange for the opportunity to partake of the resort life. This business relationship between Maurice and Joel is one of the weaker plots, and is made more difficult to watch because of Maurice's inherent dislikability. Also, Joel is seen again as a self-serving opportunist, undermining any emotional growth previously seen.

At The Brick, Maggie advises Shelly on how to tell Holling of her pregnancy, and Holling responds with shock, but decides to propose so that the child will have a father. Maurice hears of the proposal, and the pregnancy, and his old jealousy is renewed, since he originally brought Shelly to Cicely, where she fell in love with Holling. Later that evening, Maurice and Joel are entertaining Chiba and Masuto at Maurice's house, but Maurice begins agonizing over Shelly, and unintentionally insults the Japanese investors by his blunt comments. Obviously, he is a little drunk, and Joel desperately tries to salvage the evening, finally finding common ground with the investors via golf.

The next day, Ed and his friends are laying out astroturf in a field to create a makeshift golf course. Maggie shows up, visibly upset at the artificiality of the course, but Joel ignores her, lost in thoughts of 9-irons and doglegs. Maggie informs Joel that since he is Shelly's obstetrician, she has picked him to be the best man. Maggie herself has been named maid of honor, and Chris will perform the ceremony (since he became ordained by answering a classified ad in the back of Rolling Stone). Maggie tells Joel to ask Maurice to sing at the wedding, but Joel knows that Maurice will refuse.

At the wedding ceremony the following day, not only does Maurice not show up, but neither does Holling. Maggie yells at Joel for not keeping track of Holling, but Shelly accepts his absence as a sign that he doesn't want to marry her, and runs off.

On the following day, Holling shows up at the Brick in his hunting outfit, and Shelly starts throwing glasses at him. Holling eventually ends up in Joel's office with a cut above his right eye, and explains to Joel how the men in his family have always lived over one hundred years, while their wives have always died early. As a result, he never wanted to marry, fearing that his wife would die earlier as a result. Joel convinces Holling to explain this to Shelly, and the wedding is rescheduled.

Shelly shows up at Maurice's house later that night, to Maurice's surprise and delight. Although she came to try to convince Maurice to sing at the wedding, he thinks that she showed up to take him back. He begins coming on to her, and Shelly is insulted. Maurice finally kicks Shelly out but, right after, Chiba and Masuto prepare to leave. As Maurice stands dazed at this turn of events, Masuto speaks in perfect English, telling him to sing at the wedding. The investors depart, and Maurice is left alone.

At the wedding, Maggie and Joel are having their usual arguments, and Maurice is singing, a little grudgingly. As Chris is about to close the ceremony, Holling pulls Shelly outside, saying that he loves her, but doesn't want to marry her, because of his ancestors' luck with women. Shelly agrees, and they kiss and leave.

That night, Joel is in his office, away from the wedding celebration on the phone with his finacee Elaine. Maurice comes in to tell him that the investment deal is off and Joel tells Elaine he will call her right back. Maurice continues that the golf course is starting to mildew and then leaves. Joel tries to call Elaine back, but gets only her answering machine. This is the first sign that something may be wrong back in New York. The ending is rather bleak, as is the episode as a whole.


Joel: You up here for some specific reason, or was it a little slow in the woods today?
Ed: No, they're about the same as always.

Joel: Chris is ordained?
Maggie: He answered a classified on the back of Rolling Stone.

Shelly: (to Holling) You may think that because you're so much older than me you know more about the world. Well in some cases that may be. But I read magazines! I watch TV! I know how people are supposed to treat each other.

Ruth-Anne: That's the most beautiful non-ceremony I ever saw.




  1. Maurice takes Japanese businessmen for a drive.
  2. Holling proposes to Shelly.
  3. Also in the Pilot (1-1) and "Goodbye to All That" (2-1)
  4. Holling meets Shelly's dad.
  5. Shelly is stood up at the altar
  6. An enraged Shelly hurls drinking glasses at Holling.
  7. Joel happily walks along the golf course.
  8. Maurice sings at Shelly and Holling's wedding.
  9. Outdoor shot of Cicely and closing scene
  10. However, nothing in the subtitles of the previous episodes mention "jewel" or "kayak".